Learning local Mexican slang words is a great way to make friends while traveling in Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico. You should first know some basic words or phrases before trying this, but once you do it can be really fun!
Here we’ll cover what makes the most popular Mexican dialect different from other languages and how talking like an expert will impress any new Mexican best friend!
The most popular words and phrases you need to know are all listed below:
Mexican Slang Words and Phrases You Should Know
Güey pronounced like “wey” is easily one of the most common casual slang. It means “dude” or even “idiot.” The word comes from the Spanish word buey (meaning ox), which in turn comes from the Latin, meaning cattle.
One place where you’ll hear Güey quickly is when Mexicans are playing baseball. They will yell it out if they think a player should have made an easy catch but didn’t quite get to it.
Güey also has several other uses, including:
1. You can use it when you’ve made a mistake or messed something up (Mi hermana se cayó en la alberca y güey, me siento fatal.) which means “My sister fell in the pool and dude, I feel terrible.”
2. Sometimes Mexicans will also call each other güey for no reason at all except that they are friends.
2. No Manches
The phrase no manches (pronounced like “no monshe”), borrowed from the English “no way,” is a friendly and casual way of expressing surprise. If you see your friend wearing something ridiculous, you might exclaim, ¡No manches! or ¡No mames!, which means “You’re pulling my leg!” about pranks , such as telling someone that their shoes are untied when they aren’t.
Another use for this phrase is to express disbelief at someone’s actions: repeating what they said in a tone that sounds like “I can’t believe you just said/did that.” It’d be comparable to saying something like ‘ya right’ in English
Also pronounced “o-rah-lay,” this phrase is used by Mexicans to agree with something that was just said. It can be heard all over Mexico, but it is especially popular in the central and southern regions of the country.
This likely came from the French word oui, which also means yes. For obvious reasons, órale is not considered formal Spanish! If you’d like to sound natural when using this expression, you might want to simplify it slightly to oye or hombre when talking to friends.
In Northern Mexico, people tend to use ¡órale! much more than in the south. The way the phrase is said also varies across Mexico: some cultures use it as a one-word exclamation, while others say óraleee before adding a clause like “que pasó” (what’s up?)
Pinche, borrowed from Spanish pinché (“pinchable”), means something like “fucking” or “damn.” You’ll hear this expression all over Mexico and Central America–in fact, parts of South America! If you ever find yourself in Colombia or Argentina, keep an ear out for it too. Among Mexicans, pinche is used to emphasize annoyance with someone or something. For example, if your sister borrows your favorite shirt without asking, you might say ¡Pinche Susana!
Mexicans also use pinche as an adjective to express inferiority, so they might say que pinche carro (what a crappy car) if they don’t like it. Pinche can refer to any noun, although poor or broken things are more common than expensive or intact ones. If something is crappy, Mexicans will just call it chingón rather than using pinche. Another less common word for this meaning of “crappy” is lerdo .
Though bacán means “good,” the Mexican slang version has nothing to do with anything being good. To hear it, you’ll probably need to go to the central and southern parts of Mexico (or Argentina!)–in fact, in many areas of Latin America, bacán is used more than güey!
Bacán might be one of the most interesting Mexican slang words and phrases out there: even when someone says “¿Como estás?” (how are you?), they’re not asking about your well-being! The way Mexicans say this phrase implies that everything’s going great and something exciting is about to happen. For example, if a person told their friend that they were fine but then said ¡Bacán!, we would know they meant “I’m doing well!” so we wouldn’t ask about their physical state.
Bacán is also used to refer to a cool person ( ¡Qué bacán! ) or someone who dresses well.
6. Mexican Slang Words and Phrases: Estar Chido
Also spelled está chido and pronounced es-tah chee-doh, this phrase describes something that is “cool,” but it’s not quite as casual as “bacán.” You’ll hear it in Mexico City and any other Mexican areas with a lot of Spanish speakers from the United States . It’s very similar to saying something was awesome, so Mexicans might use it interchangeably with chido. However, you might want to use estar chido for special occasions or if you’re trying to sound cool.
Estar chido is quite common in the United States as well, but it’s often used there to mean “having many girlfriends.” If a male says his life’s OK because he “está chido,” most Mexican speakers would understand that he means he has many women and is happy about it! To avoid this misunderstanding, Mexicans might instead say que padre (which sounds like “that father”) when talking about having a lot of romantic options available.
This expression is a warning against danger. It means “beware!” and Mexicans might use it when passing by an unsafe spot or after seeing someone do something reckless (like bumping into a stranger). To be extra cautious, aguas can also be used as an exclamation like ¡Aguas! ¡Ten cuidado! or “watch out!”
Although the spelling varies, this phrase has the same meaning as aguas: watch out! Cuidado and its many forms (cuidadín, cuidate) are very useful for telling someone to be careful. You can say any of them to mean “be careful” or “look out,”
Although this word alone doesn’t mean anything, Mexicans use it along with another verb to warn you against doing something. Lento is a warning against moving quickly or behaving in a certain way which will have adverse consequences–for example, ¡Lento! No seas pendejo (“slow down! Don’t be stupid”). In these situations, lento always means slow down! If someone tells you to do anything else but go slowly, they probably aren’t using lento properly .
Mexicans often shorten words by removing syllables from the end of them. This is how peña came about: pene becomes pen-e becomes pe-na . Peña has several meanings depending on where somebody lives, but all versions refer to a secret society of men who engage in illegal activities . In Mexico City, some peña can be violent and threatening–and those who participate may have been involved in the drug trade.
In some parts of Latin America, peña is just a group of people who meet up somewhere specific regularly. This version might be closer to “club” or “organization.”
A way to express frustration or discomfort , this word has no real translation in English. Mexicans use it when they’re annoyed, for example, if something didn’t work out the way they wanted. A single “uy” might not be enough to convey how upset Mexicans are about what has happened, so they often add—you guessed it!—more uys !
Mexicans also comically use this word when playing around with certain words and phrases. For example, you might hear ¡uy, que susto! (oh no! or that scares me!) when someone has said or done something surprising. On its own and without context , though, uy doesn’t mean anything; it’s just used as an interjection to express emotions like annoyance and surprise.
Neta , neto , and netico are all variations on the same word, but they’re used differently depending on where you live. Only Mexicans from Mexico City use them as an equivalent for “really” or “honestly.” The rest of the population mostly uses this word to mean “truthful,” “serious,” or “genuine.” For example, if your friend tells you something that sounds unbelievable, you might ask, ¿En serio? O sea…¿neta? (“Are you serious? I mean…is it true?”)
If people tell each other to díganme la neta (“tell me the truth”), it’s often because they’re looking for some kind of insight into a situation. In Mexico City, neta has come to be used as a way of asking for straight forward answers or opinions .
13. Chavo or Chava
In Mexico, you might hear this everywhere: in the street, at school, even said by adults . In some parts of Latin America, chavo and chava are used to address children. In other regions, though, they can be an equivalent for “chief,” “boss,” or “master.” In any case—regardless of age–this word is a variation on saying “guy,” but it’s often used with affectionate familiarity .
Mexicans from different regions have their special uses for chavo/chava. For example, in some areas it’s common to call your friend chavo/a when talking about them because it shows camaraderie and closeness. Similarly, if someone is acting cocky or pretends they’re better than their peers, Mexicans from Mexico City call that person a chavo/a because it’s a way of saying “You think you’re hot stuff just because ____. If you want to be the big shot around here, you have to earn your stripes! Nobody is going to respect you if ____.”
In some parts of Latin America, chavo/chava is used when speaking directly to children . In this case—regardless of age–the word might also mean “dude,” but in a slightly patronizing way. For example, if someone was talking about a child who misbehaved , they might use chavo a disapproving tone: Ese chavo no sabe nada… (“That kid doesn’t know anything.”)
14. No Hay Bronca
Bronca is an informal word for anger , irritability, or aggressiveness. So to say there isn’t any bronca would be tantamount to saying that someone has nerves of steel ! Mexicans also use this phrase when they are completely unfazed by something that other people might get worked up about. For example, if you were late for class but your friend was still calm and relaxed , you could tell them, No hay bronca .
This phrase can also express comfort after being relieved about something. If one of your friends tells you they just told their mom off (“le dio una bofetada”) or explains how mad she was at their dad (“estaba furioso”), they could end the conversation with No hay bronca, as if to say “It’s all cool.” It would be sort of like saying, “No worries dude!” but could also mean something more along the lines of “who cares?”
15. Qué Chido or Qué padre
Mexicans are known for being humble , so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they use these Mexican slang words and phrases when complimenting things. Chido (which directly translates into “cool”) is used pretty much everywhere in Latin America , but it’s very common in Mexico . Like neta and no hay bronca , chido expresses comfort, relief, disbelief…basically any strong feeling you might have! So if your Mexican friends tell you what you just did was chido (or padre), it means they’re impressed.
This is one of the Mexican slang words that is extremely popular term in Mexico, but it’s not always meant to be derogatory! A fresa can be simply someone who enjoys certain things or acts in a certain way . It also means that person might have “platinum” taste …and no, it’s not just because they’re rich! Fresa is mostly used when somebody does something that reflects good taste. For example, if your friend was sipping on an expensive wine or wearing pretty pricey clothes, you could call them a fresa to compliment their refined tastes.
Fresas are often well-educated and sometimes snobby, so the word has taken on a slightly negative tone in some cases. Calling somebody a fresa might come across as a way of saying “You’re a snob and like refusing to hang out with anyone who isn’t as rich/cultured as you.”
However, fresas can also be sweet and generous. If someone wanted to invite the whole class over for a party , they might ask the popular fresa girls of the class if they’d mind inviting everyone else so it’s more inclusive . In this case, calling someone a fresa would be seen as a good thing!
In Mexico City, it is common to call people from other parts of Mexico provincianos or provincianas instead . However, fresas are still used in some regions. For example, if you go south into Oaxaca or Veracruz , you might hear people call each other fresas instead of, say, payasos or pendejos .
17. Cara de Piña
In Mexico, piña refers to a pineapple , but this phrase doesn’t have anything to do with fruit! It’s used as a derogatory way of saying that someone is naïve and gullible. In some parts of Latin America this word can also be used as an adjective when talking about certain types of girls who behave in a silly or superficial way. For example, if you thought everybody loved Justin Bieber because he was so cute , your friends might tease you by calling you cara de piña behind your back.
This word is very similar to güero and can also be used in a derogatory sense . A naco is a lower-class person who likes the most popular music , wears clothes that are not brand-name, and prefers going to “arenas” or shopping malls instead of galleries. Nacos can also be seen as superficial or even dumb . For example, if you had an important exam coming up and your naco friend started talking about the latest youtube video, you may call them a “naco”.
19. No Mames!
Mexico is known for being laid back, so it’s no surprise that this happens to be one of their most popular slang phrases! It can express disbelief, anger, confusion…basically any strong emotion.
It’s like saying “wow” but in a more animated way. So if anybody says something completely outrageous , you can respond with no mames to agree with their sentiment!
A large part of Mexican culture is based on the food they eat and how it’s prepared. For example, in some parts of Mexico it is customary to add a lot of chili powder when preparing mole . Mole (which has many variations) is made from chili peppers , cocoa powder, nuts and other ingredients and usually takes hours to prepare ! So if your friend tells you that they like chilli sauce on everything… well, that might come as a surprise. You could then say “no me digas” because you’re surprised. Again, this phrase simply means don’t tell me that!
As well as meaning neighbor , tocayo is also used in Mexico to describe somebody who has the same name as you! Certain names are very common in Mexico, like José (male) or Ana (female). So if you hear someone call out your name when they’re passing by on the street, they could easily be adding an -ito or -ita at the end to make it sound cuter. It might seem confusing at first but it’s probably not hard to pick up quickly.
In Mexico, this word is used to describe someone who is dark-skinned . This ethnicity-neutral term can be applied to any type of dark hair or eyes. For example, if a friend with dark hair didn’t want to admit they dyed their hair black , you might say prieto para no reconocerlo! So even though it’s a very general word, it always implies the darker color.
Similarly, if somebody described another person as morena (which means brunette), it would automatically mean they have darker skin than other people do .
A metiche is an expensive makeup brand that you would most likely find in a department store or pharmacy . For example, if your friend complained that they spent all their money on metiches , it’s because they’re obsessed with beauty products!
However, it can also be used sarcastically to show disapproval. For example, if someone constantly posts selfies of themselves on social media , you could call them metiches behind their back.
First of all, cholo and chicano are two very different words: a chicano is usually associated with the American Southwest and has nothing to do with Mexico. Cholo , on the other hand, can be used in both countries to describe a Mexican gangster.
It’s even becoming more common for tourists to use this term for anyone who looks like they may belong to a street-gang – whether it’s true or not! So if someone keeps calling you a cholo/chola , that might be offensive.
If you want to be friends with a Mexican, you need to know how to use the word chingón . It can mean cool, awesome and even bad ass , so it’s usually applied when somebody is impressive in some way.
For example, if your friend just made an incredible acrobatic jump on their skateboard , they might tell you that they’re “chingón!”
As stated above, chicano is a word with different connotations to cholo . In the United States, this term refers to an American of Mexican descent. In Mexico, it’s used to describe Mexicans from the state of Texas who have Hispanic ancestry .
It’s also quite common for people from California and other parts of America to use the term in this way… even if it doesn’t apply! So if you’re talking about your friend who lives in America and somebody tells you they’re chicano, don’t be offended.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of tonto is The Lone Ranger’s companion. However, this word means dumb in Mexican Spanish! You might hear your friend say that assignment was a total tontada (which means big piece of stupid work) and they couldn’t believe how hard it was. It can be used both positively and negatively, but most often has a negative connotation. Unlike pendejo which has many meanings depending on the context, tonto is pretty straightforward.
If somebody calls their wife or girlfriend vieja , they probably aren’t being very nice. It’s most commonly used to describe an old woman , but can be used in a derogatory way to refer to somebody’s mother . If your friend swears they’re joking when they say this, they probably are not! This is equivalent to saying ‘the old lady’.
A güero is usually someone who has blonde hair and light colored eyes. Although it comes from the word blanco (meaning white), it isn’t always associated with having lighter skin.
Instead, you could call somebody a güero if their style of dress or tattoos make them appear American. You’ll sometimes see Mexican-American celebrities referred to as güeros in the media , but this is not always a compliment.
A joto is a derogatory term meaning fag . It’s similar to calling somebody gay . It can be used when talking about men or women, and is often heard in a homophobic environment.
If a man uses it about another man , he might also mean that they’re weak or inferior in some way. In Mexico City, you might hear somebody call somebody else a jota instead of using the word “joto.”
Short for malacología , this word is used to refer to somebody who likes animals more than people! They might be often seen playing with their pet or working at an animal shelter.
The word pomo comes from the English word “poem,” but can be used to describe any kind of music that’s not traditional Mexican . It’s usually heard about rock , hip-hop or reggaeton , and is commonly used by young people.
If somebody tells you they like pomos, don’t assume it means they only listen to foreign bands! Although this word isn’t often seen written down (except on Facebook!), you’ll hear it all the time in Mexico City.
This word describes a person who has very ‘strange’ style of dress. It’s most commonly heard when somebody is talking about another guy, and can mean they’re wearing clothes that are uncoordinated or just plain weird. For example, you might say “Ahorita voy llegando, pero mi primo está arriba y se ve que acaba de bañarse porque no le quedó ni na cuando se puso ese changarro.” (roughly translates to: “Right now I’m coming over, but my cousin is already here and it looks like he just took a shower because there’s nothing left on him after he put on this strange outfit.”)
This word describes a man who does not have any money! A pelado usually has no job and makes his living by doing small crimes like stealing or selling drugs. This negative term is the Mexican equivalent of calling somebody a bum in English.
However, it can also mean that somebody has run out of something (such as money, time or patience). For example, if your mom says she’s going to wait until tomorrow to mow the grass, but then it rains, she might say “me quedé pelado.
If somebody says they’re looking for a chamba , it’s usually to get work. It can also describe the job itself if they get it! This is equivalent to saying “job” in English.
A pocho is a Mexican-American who has lost their connection with Mexico and Mexican traditions . They might even speak more English than Spanish, and may find themselves in a difficult situation in Mexico because of their inability to communicate in Spanish.
A pocho can be considered offensive depending on the context, but they do exist and you’ll encounter them from time to time if you move around in Mexico or go to school here.
This word refers to somebody who has a lot of tattoos . It’s an adjective, but can also be used as a verb. For example, if you have a friend named Jose and he gets his first tattoo, you could tell your other friends “si van a ver a Jose, avisan que tiene varas.” (roughly translated to: “if y’all are going to see Jose, let him know that he has tattoos.”)
A chafa is an adjective that means something is crappy, of poor quality or bad. For example, if you were to say “ese celular es una chafa” (that cell phone is crap), it would be the equivalent of saying “that cell phone sucks.”
This Mexican word can mean anything from lazy or worthless , to sweet or cute . It’s also heard when somebody does something good for somebody else! If your friend always holds the door open for you on your way out, you could say “eres un huevón.” (you’re sweet).
In Mexico , everybody wears a chamarra in the winter, which is what makes this word so important. It’s short for chaqueta de mezclilla , which translates to “jeans jacket” as well as denim jacket . If somebody asks you if you have a chamarra, they’re asking if you have a denim jacket.
40. Te falta el respeto!
This isn’t a slang word, but it’s a common phrase that means just that: “you lack respect!” You might hear somebody yell this at you after you say something they don’t like or do something they disagree with. It can also be used sarcastically when somebody does something good and doesn’t expect any praise or acknowledgement of any kind.
In Mexico, people don’t use color words like black or white very often. Instead, you will hear them say negro (and not “negro” as in the color of ink) for pretty much every racial group except white people! So, it doesn’t matter what race you are, everybody gets called negro at some point.
A ratero is a thief. In Mexico, stealing from stores and supermarkets is a serious problem. As a result of this, if somebody sees somebody else steal something from the store they will say “¡eres un ratero!” (you’re a thief!).
Chanclas are flip-flops , and everybody in Mexico wears them! You can even wear chanclas to fancy places, such as restaurants. They’re cheap, easy to clean and super comfortable. So, if somebody asks you “¿tienes chanclas?” (do you have flip-flops?), they’re asking if you have a pair that you could bring out with you somewhere.
So there you have it! The most popular Mexican slang words. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.